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Canada-Colombia

On 7 June 2008, Canada concluded free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Colombia. The Canadian government has pushed this agreement, stating that “Colombia is an established and growing market for Canadian exporters (e.g. wheat, pulses, barley, chemicals, paper products, and heavy equipment) and service providers (mining, oil and gas, engineering, information, and communication sectors), as well as a strategic destination for Canadian direct investments (mining, oil exploration, printing, and education).“

Canada has also said that the FTA will “promote a more stable and predictable investment environment in Colombia.“ Many Colombians and Canadians think otherwise, and believe that the investment and economic ramifications of the FTA will lead to more instability and increased human rights violations in a country already plagued with violence and conflict. Canadian mining interests, for example, will benefit greatly from equal treatment in the exploitation of Colombian natural resources. But in a country where trade unionists and labor activists are routinely threatened and murdered, many say that the involvement of Canadian business interests will only increase illegal persecution of those who struggle for fair working conditions and other labour-related causes. Mineral exploitation, such as that being developed in the town of Marmato by Canadian Colombia Goldfields, threatens the displacement of whole communities in order to facilitate mining, in a country already estimated to have between 1.8 and 3 million internally displaced people.

Canada-Colombia trade relations are nominal in comparison to other countries, barely surpassing $1 billion in trade each year. However, in terms of sectors engaged in megaprojects, such as mining or oil and gas, Canadian multinationals are among the major players.

Regarding Canada’s promotion of this FTA, Michael Hart, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa says, “It’s a political gesture [on behalf of the Harper government] toward an embattled government in Colombia.“ The question is whether Uribe’s government, with its civil war involving an all-out offensive on guerrilla groups, handshakes with paramilitaries, and the dirty war on trade unionists, the political left, and human rights defenders, is the kind of “embattled“ regime that Canada should be making friendly “gestures“ to.

There was no public draft text of the agreement to speak of, and the agreement was concluded without waiting for an assessment from the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

There has been minimal media coverage and the majority of Canadians are unaware of the existence of this accord.

The agreement was signed by the Government of Canada on 21 November 2008 over strong criticism from the opposition parties and condemnation from Colombian civil society organizations. It came into force on 15 August 2011, providing important strategic value to the government of Colombia in terms of facilitating the ratification of its FTAs with the US and the EU.

last update: May 2012


Canada-Colombia FTA removed from legislative agenda: Canada steps towards dignity
Public pressure has forced a victory in the fight to stop the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA). Sources from Canada’s three opposition parties have confirmed that the ruling Conservative Party has removed Bill C-23, implementing legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, from the government’s current legislative agenda.
Activists oppose Igantieff’s support of CCFTA
Despite calls from labour and human rights organizations across Canada, on May 1 Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced that the party would support the ratification of a proposed Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA).
Canada-Colombia free trade agreement could be a lose-lose deal
Canada gambled on a losing strategy: that free trade will inherently bring democracy to what some would consider a lawless society. Ottawa should only have looked to its neighbor in Washington to see the futility of this approach.
Harper pushes the Canada-Colombia FTA, the people fight back
Since the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was tabled on March 26th, people across Canada have been getting the word out and showing their opposition to the deal.
Deadly pact
Opposition is growing over a controversial bilateral trade agreement Canada signed with Colombia in November, the largest trade accord in the Americas after NAFTA.
NUPGE asks Ignatieff to block Colombia trade deal
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is appealing to the federal Liberal Party to join with other opposition parties to block the new Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
Minister defends Colombia free-trade deal
Parliamentary hearings will give a fulsome airing to critics of Canada’s proposed free-trade agreement with Colombia, says the Harper government’s Latin American cabinet minister, Peter Kent, the minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
KAIROS and Colombian Partners Outraged at Canada-Colombia Free Trade Deal
Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives today expressed outrage that the federal government has introduced legislation for a free trade deal with Colombia, ignoring the pleas of Canadian and Colombian activists for a human rights assessment in advance of any deal.
Making a bad situation worse: An analysis of the text of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
While trade can support development and the realization of human rights, the authors find that neither the political conditions in Colombia, nor the terms of this FTA meet the criteria that would allow that to happen.
Canada-Colombia free trade agreement condemned
Colombia’s national labour federations and major unions have condemned the free trade agreement (FTA) signed by the governments of Canada and Colombia last year.